At a standing-room-only meeting of the Amelia County School Board on Monday night, residents heard that the financial crisis that prompted the cancellation of a day of classes last month had eased slightly but that the larger problems remain.
The residents urged board members to continue their work addressing the challenges.
Becky Boswell, the schools’ accounting manager, told the board that while reviewing records, she found that the school system had about $581,000 of local funding available that had previously been reported as spent.
The unearthed money means 75 percent of the $5 million the school system gets from the county has been spent for this school year. The school system’s total budget is $18.5 million.
Superintendent Jack McKinley called the discovery of the money great news that buys the school system more time to get a handle on its finances.
“The numbers are playing out in our favor,” McKinley said. “The challenge still remains.”
McKinley has said the financial problems stem from starting the school year before Aug. 15. That created an extra payroll period during the first half of the year.
Cost-saving measures have been put in place to help keep money available, including restrictions on using classroom refrigerators and other appliances and canceling a day of classes prior to winter break.
McKinley said Monday that he will be reviewing the county’s finances over the next couple of weeks. He said if the current spending freezes remained in place, about $330,000 could be saved.
County Administrator A. Taylor Harvie said last month that for fiscal year 2017, the school system had about a $482,000 deficit. He said the deficit coincided with the tenure of the school system’s former finance director, Bill Midkiff, after years of surpluses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Midkiff’s name did not come up at Monday’s meeting. Instead, over the course of the school budget public hearing and a comment period, 14 people encouraged the School Board to continue working to address the financial problems and for the community to come together.
Robyn Whittington called on her neighbors to ease up on the negativity displayed on social media.
“That’s not the Amelia County I know,” Whittington said. “(Let’s) come together as a community.”
In other matters, the board elected Glen Wilkerson to replace Jim Ferrara as chairman. In remarks after he was elected, Wilkerson said steps had been defined to address the financial problems.
“We will fix it,” Wilkerson said. “We will move forward with more transparency.”